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Woman shot, scores injured as police teargas Delta protesters

One middle-aged woman was shot while many others sustained varied degrees of injury in Ughelli on Monday as operatives of the Delta State Police Command resorted to forceful dispersal of a group of protesting women.

The women from Oteri-Ughelli in the Ughelli North Local Government Area were protesting against alleged incessant harassment and extortion by policemen in the community.

Eyewitnesses said what started as a peaceful protest turned bloody when the aggrieved women, in their hundreds, who had mobilised to the Police Area Command office in Ughelli to register their grievances, were rebuffed by the men and officers of the area command.

The women protesters carried placards with assorted inscriptions such “Oteri-Ughell is a peaceful community with law-abiding citizens, stop making life difficult for us”; “Police are making life difficult for our poor and innocent citizens”; etc.

But security operatives reportedly used heavy teargas against the unarmed women and shot one middle-aged woman in her left leg while others were beaten to stupor.

Two leaders of the protesting women, who volunteered to speak with journalists, Harvest Ugbhwiako and Mrs. Vivian Aphiare, alleged that the police unlawfully arrested and detained their children and wards who were on errands. She said they were made to part with between N150,000 and N200,000 to secure their release on bail.


Also addressing newsmen at the emergency ward of the General Hospital, Ughelli, where some victims of the police gunshots were admitted, the President General of the community, Efe Peter, berated the police “for using guns with live ammunition against the peaceful protesters”.

He said, “The women from Oteri community were in peaceful protest to the palace of the Ovie (monarch) of Ughelli kingdom and the Area Commander to register their grievances.”

Efe stated that the Area Commander called him to appeal to the protesting women to go home, promising that he would look into their complaints, “but before I looked back, policemen started shooting and teargassing the women, thereby shooting one in the leg and injuring many.”

He lamented that “people of the community had come to notice, with worries, that they could no longer access their community nor come out from the community without experiencing extortion by policemen.”

“Whenever you come out of the community to Ughelli main town, once it is 8 o’clock in the evening, you cannot get motorcycles or tricycles to convey you any longer because of the police extortion.

“Consequently, our mothers and women trek home from Ughelli main market every day as a result of police harassment and extortions of money from motorists.

“Recently the police embarked on incessant arrest and vandalism of houses belonging to youths of the community and carted away their personal belongings, detained them and collected a huge amount of money from them without offence.”

When contacted, the Police Area Commander in Ughelli, ACP Adebayo, told journalists that his office “is looking into the complaints of the community with a view to sanctioning erring police officers and men.”

He disclosed that already, he had already disbanded a squad of hunters in the command.

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